What are the differences between worldly joys
and spiritual joys? The gleanings of spiritual joys,
are better than the vintage of the worldly joys.
Spiritual joys help to make us BETTER; worldly
joys often make us worse. “I spoke unto you in
your prosperity; but you said—I will not hear.”
Pride and luxury are the two worms which
are bred from worldly pleasures.
But spiritual joy is cordial medicine, which
not only comforts, but purifies—
it makes a Christian more holy;
it causes an antipathy against sin;
it infuses strength to live and suffer for Christ.
Some colors not only delight the eye—but
strengthen the sight. Just so, the joys of God
not only refresh the soul—but strengthen it.
“The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Spiritual joys are INWARD, they are heart joys.
“Your heart shall rejoice.” True joy is hidden within;
worldly joy lies on the outside, like the dew which
wets the leaf. “Laughter can conceal a heavy heart;
when the laughter ends, the grief remains.” Like a
house which has a gilded frontispiece—but all the
rooms within are in shambles. But spiritual joy lies
most within. “Your heart shall rejoice.” Divine joy
is like a spring of water, which runs underground.
Others can see the sufferings of a Christian—but
they cannot see his joy. His joy is hidden manna
—hidden from the eye of the world; he has joyful
music which others cannot hear. The marrow lies
within—the best joy is within the heart.
Spiritual joys are SWEETER than worldly joys.
“Your love is sweeter than wine!” Spiritual joys are
a Christian’s festival; they are the golden pot, and
the sweet manna. They are so sweet, that they make
everything else sweet! Spiritual joys sweeten health
and estate, as sweet water poured on flowers makes
them more fragrant and aromatic. Divine joys are so
delicious and ravishing, that they put our mouth out
of taste for earthly delights; just as he who has been
drinking cordials, tastes little sweetness in water.
Paul had so tasted these divine joys, that his mouth
was out of taste for worldly things. The world was
crucified to him—it was like a dead thing, he could
find no sweetness in it.
Spiritual joys are more PURE; they are not tempered
with any bitter ingredients. A sinner’s joy is mixed with
dregs—it is embittered with fear and guilt—he drinks
wormwood wine. But spiritual joy is not muddied with
guilt—but like a crystal stream, it runs pure. Spiritual
joy is a rose without prickles; it is honey without wax.
Spiritual joys are SATISFYING joys. “Ask, that your
joy may be full.” Worldly joys can no more fill the heart,
than a drop can fill an ocean! They may please the palate
or imagination—but cannot satisfy the soul. “No matter
how much we see—we are never satisfied. No matter
how much we hear—we are not content.” Eccles. 1:8.
But the joys of God satisfy. “Your comforts delight my
soul.” Psalm 94:19. There is as much difference between
spiritual joys and earthly joys—as between a banquet
which is eaten—and one which is painted on the wall!
Spiritual joys are STRONGER joys than worldly joys.
“Strong consolation.” Heb 6:18. They are strong joys
indeed, which can bear up a Christian’s heart in trials
and afflictions. “Having received the word in much
affliction—with joy.” These joys are roses which grow
in winter! These joys can sweeten the bitter waters of
Marah! He who has these joys—can gather grapes from
thorns, and fetch honey out of the carcass of a lion!
At the end of the rod—a Christian tastes honey! “As
sorrowing—yet always rejoicing.”
Spiritual joys are UNWEARIED joys. Other joys, when
in excess, often cause loathing; too much honey nauseates.
One may be tired of pleasure—as well as labor. King Xerxes
offered a reward to him who could find out a new pleasure.
But the joys of God, though they satisfy—yet they never glut.
A drop of joy is sweet—but the more of this wine the better!
Such as drink of the joys of heaven—are never glutted. Their
satiety is without loathing, because they still desire more of
the joy with which they are satiated.
Spiritual joys are ABIDING joys. Worldly joys are soon
gone. Such as bathe in the perfumed waters of pleasure—
may have joys which seem to be sweet—but they are swift.
They are like meteors—which give a bright and sudden flash,
and then disappear. But the joys which believers have are
abiding; they are a blossom of eternity—a pledge of those
rivers of pleasure which run at God’s right hand! “In Your
presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal
pleasures!” Psalm 16:11
If God gives His people such joy in this life, oh! then, what
glorious joy will He give them in heaven! “Enter into the joy
of your Lord!” God keeps His best wine until last. What joy
will that be—when the soul shall forever bathe itself in the
pure and pleasant fountain of God’s love! What joy will that
be—to see the orient brightness of Christ’s face, and have
the kisses of those lips which drop sweet-smelling myrrh!
How may this set us all longing for that place where sorrow
cannot live—and where joy cannot die!
(Thomas Watson, “Body of Divinity“)